“Forget about politics,” Jon Stewart exhorted his guest, whom he touted Tuesday night as simply “the author of a great new book on home gardening.”
Needless to say, Michelle Obama’s appearance on The Daily Show—ostensibly to promote American Grown, a coffee-table book with her byline on it, about growing veggies and tomatoes on the South Lawn of the White House—was all about politics. And it was a whole lot more congenial than her husband’s less-than-cozy visit in October 2010, when the president of the United States claimed his former economic adviser, Larry Summers, “did a heckuva job,” and Comedy Central’s fake news anchor cautioned: “You don’t want to use that phrase, dude.”
This time Stewart didn’t say “dude” or whatever the first-lady equivalent might be. Dudess?
Instead, he listened respectfully, chiming in every so often with a self-deprecating laugh line about his kids’ eating habits and excessive screen watching, as the first lady guffawed charmingly and otherwise praised her husband’s “character,” “values,” and “vision for this country,” while steadfastly refusing to participate in Stewart’s Joe Biden quips.
“I’m not taking any bait,” she admonished her host.
“I see what this man [the president] sees in you,” Stewart gallantly replied.
For Mrs. Obama—glam in a royal-blue dress and funky beaded necklace—it was the end of a long and productive day spent in television studios, where she hoped to enlarge her husband’s gender-gap advantage over Mitt Romney and reach an audience of independents who are unlikely to have paid a whole lot of attention to the campaign thus far. She started with Good Morning America and proceeded to The View and then The Daily Show—a journey aptly described by Bravo’s Andy Cohen, on Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC program, The Last Word, as “the whistle-stop tour,” circa 2012. Wednesday morning she’ll continue her “non-campaign” appearances with a drop-by on Live! With Kelly.
If you flipped channels on the tube or browsed the Web, it was nearly impossible to avoid her—a salesperson as ubiquitous as Will Smith or Charlize Theron promoting the latest Hollywood blockbuster—as she loudly beat the drum for her husband’s reelection without ever lowering herself to mention it. It was, all in all, a wondrous feat of prestidigitation, worthy of a Las Vegas magician.
So Mrs. Obama sailed through the day talking with great charm and authority, without crossing the border into sickly sweetness, about the importance of exercise and vegetables for kids, her enduring commitment to helping military families, how she always teases the president but he never teases back, how Malia and Sasha are keeping everybody’s feet on the ground, and how he tucks her into bed every night in the White House family quarters.
OK, maybe that last one—teased out of her by The View’s Sherri Shepherd—made one feel a bit woozy.